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  • Carrie Specht

Amores Perros: Review


The film Amores Perros (2000) is brilliantly directed by Alejandro González Iñarritu whom brought together an amazing cast led by the talented Gael Garcia Bernal in a dramatic telling of three interrelated stories about survival, fate, and love. The film was nominated for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Academy Awards as well as at the Golden Globes in 2001. Locally, in the Ariel Awards (Mexico) the film won Best First Work, Best Editing, Best Sound, and Best Special Effects. Iñarritu’s first produced film was a glimpse of what was to come in his future work. The talent and vision he has to tell amazingly powerful stories capturing audiences from all over the world. Without a doubt, this film is a must-see. The intense drama and action combined with a magnificent storyline full of twists and turns has the audience immerse themselves in the lives of the characters.

Amores Perros begins in the unforgiving streets of Mexico City with a car chase taking place involving Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his friend Jorge who are being followed by a truck with guys flailing guns closing in right behind them. His dog, Cofi, Octavio’s Rottweiler is bleeding in the back seat as the fast-paced chase continues. The chase finally culminates with the Octavio crashing at an intersection, t-boning another car, that is occupied by a young woman. As the dramatic scenes of the accident unfold and the devastation of the aftermath can be seen; flames, blood, distress, and sounds of agony and pain. It is then that the story commences, with a devastating car accident, which interconnects the lives of three strangers whose lives are filled with loss, grief, and heartache.

There are three stories that unfold which follow the life of three characters and their parallel life which they have with their pets. The first story in this three-part series sees Octavio, a young man that desires to get out of his socio-economic state and harsh living conditions that is living in Mexico City. Along with the love and lust he feels for his sister-in-law, Susana, who he wants to get away with. The second story involves Valeria, a successful model who has a forbidden love affair with a married man, Daniel, sees her life spiral into catastrophe. The third and final part follows ‘El Chivo’, a homeless man that went from being a family man to a criminal destroying the only relationships he truly valued, his wife and daughter.

In this film, Gael Garcia Bernal (Octavio), a young Mexican actor would participate in his first major feature film bringing a stellar performance that would initialize his path to an amazing acting career. In 2001, he won the Silver Ariel Award for ‘Best Actor’ at the Ariel Awards in Mexico. It was through his performance as Octavio, a young adolescent who finds himself desiring his brother’s wife, struggle to find his spot in life, and a dire need to escape the merciless way of life of Mexico City. Gael Garcia Bernal channels incredible passion into the character and creates a connection with the viewers. Evoking mixed emotions and provoking a sense of sympathy for his character Octavio. It was these very characteristics in his acting that would not go unnoticed in the cinema world.

Iñarritu is a director well-known for directing films such as The Revenant, Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Biutiful, Babel, and Amores Perros, which proved to be his most successful works. In Amores Perros, Iñarritu, demonstrated his capacity in directing and producing quality works. His ability to capture a multi-perspective of characters’ in a way in which audiences could not look away an instant due to the amazing plot. Along with the great plot was the artistry of the cinematography, it allowed for the film to create the tone for every scene whether it be an action scene or a scene of anguish. A great example of this is the opening car chase scene of the film. The sequence of cutting during this intense part of the film went hand on hand. The movement of the camera did not negatively affect the sequence but enhanced the nature of the events that were transpiring. He utilizes short focal lengths and wide angles create amazing feel amongst scenes but also story plots. The viewer feels a genuine emotion for the characters and also with the angles of the scenes the viewers find themselves immersed in every scene. Also, the color tone of the film results in setting the tone and correctly constructs the atmosphere of the film.

In addition, there is a more controversial aspect to this film which the underground betting in dog fights. The scenes of the dog fights were so creatively and expertly done in the film that it is almost hard to believe that no animal was harmed during the film. It was later shared that the dogs that were “killed” during the scenes were sedated and all the protocols were met in order to ensure the safety of the animals. The viewer is also wisely fooled by the editing during the actual dog fight scenes by cutting precisely and with purpose is that the power of such scene gets transferred to the viewer. In congruence with the cinematography and editing there is the sound and music that finalize the immersion of the viewer in every scene. The soundtracks each express the emotion that is occurring in every scene along with the appropriate lyrical emphasis.

A truly great and skillful piece of filmmaking produced by Iñarritu makes Amores Perros a must-see film. The incredible story-telling and ability of Iñarritu to express the different socio-economic strata that is exposed in Mexico City is simply powerful. It marked the beginning of two notably successful careers, Iñarritu’s directing prowess, and Bernal’s prolific acting that has led them to find success in Hollywood. I highly recommend watching this film to anyone who has a liking to films with deep meaning and an incredible storyline. This film certainly can be defined as a blend of magnificent story-telling and unbelievable meaning of life’s struggles with loss, love, regret, and survival. To conclude, Amores Perros is an incredible film that with its powerful images and magnificent cinematography brings an impactful storyline to life.

#MexicanCinema #AlejandroGonzálezIñárritu #AmoresPerros